A day in the life of Mark Senkevics, SwissRe

Mark currently holds office as Managing Director and Head of Australia & New Zealand, Swiss Reinsurance Company, having been with the company since February 2003. 

Prior to his latest appointment in 2010, Mark served in a number of senior roles abroad including;

Head of Client Markets Korea, with responsibility for both life and non-life reinsurance and well as General Manager and Head Property and Casualty Taiwan operation. Mark originally joined Swiss Re in Sydney as a Client Manager and was responsible for a number of high valued clients. 

In his current capacity, Mark forms part of the APAC regional management team at Swiss Re while concurrently holding positions as Director of the Board of the Insurance Council of Australia and Committee member for the Life Board for the Financial Services Council.

With over two decades of experience in reinsurance his career spans from underwriting, marketing, client management to strategic management. 

Mark graduated from the University of Sydney in 1988 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is married with two children and enjoys running, watersports, architecture as well as wide and varied taste in music. 

A day in the life of Mark Senkevics  is…….

Both frantic and varied! My calendar is always full as I oversee both life and non-life reinsurance. One minute I may be working with the life underwriting team, the next with our logistics team on an office related matter. However, a large proportion of my time is taken up with people and customers, which is how it should be in a customer outcomes-focused business.

How and why did you get into a career in Reinsurance  

This was a career I tripped in to! I’m an Electrical Engineer by background and in 1995 I responded to an advertisement looking for Engineers who wanted a career change into reinsurance. Since then I have worked for three reinsurance companies –SCOR, Gerling and Swiss Re – in Australia, Korea and Taiwan. I started out in non-life reinsurance and picked up life insurance along the way.

The biggest challenge for me as MD at Swiss Re ANZ is...

Navigating change with more changes looming over the horizon; and supporting my team in navigating this. Other challenges include customer engagement and the tide of big data – and our ability to interpret data – not just actuaries doing this but a broader church of people equipped with this skillset.

What most excites me about reinsurance in the Australian Life insurance…

The enormous difference we can make to the fabric of society. At Swiss Re our vision is to make the world more resilient and it is exciting working towards this.  In Australia we have paid more than $1 billion each year in claims to Australian consumers and in New Zealand we have played a large role in the rebuilding of Christchurch, which shows the significant impact reinsurance delivers to society.

What excites me the most about Swiss Re….

I have been with Swiss Re now for 15 years so that speaks volumes about my deep connection with the business. My personal values are very connected to Swiss Re’s mission; its strong societal connection really resonates with me and is enormously important. I’m also excited by our contemporary global leadership with a young, forward-thinking, global CEO who captivates the business.

Four words to describe the culture at SwissRe….

Collaborative, innovative, social conscience, and fun!

Four words to describe me…

I called my wife to workshop this one… passionate, driven, curious, and… sometimes cranky!!

I’m most passionate about..

My family. I have two kids that I am very proud of.

What most annoys me…     

People who don’t try to be the best they can be.

A little know fact about me that not many people know… 

I’m not a bad handyman. My wife and I are now on our fifth house renovation!

What makes my job interesting…

The variety of work, being part of the Asia management team and tapped into our global headquarters.

My role’s greatest challenge…  

Time management is a huge one, as well as navigating change and supporting our people to be agile through change.

Who has been the biggest influence on my career and why

My wife. Whenever I’ve been faced with uncertainty she has been a positive and supportive influence – challenging me to push boundaries, such as working overseas.

My proudest career achievement to date is… 

Seeing so many of the people who have worked in the Sydney office take on a bigger role elsewhere, both at Swiss Re and externally.

5 years from now, Swiss Re will be…

On the life side, even more interwoven with our clients and continuing to produce strong customer outcomes.

The most valuable skill an underwriter can possess is…

Curiosity. Underwriting is an important part of the value chain and is facing an enormous amount of change, with artificial intelligence and big data augmenting the role. Therefore keeping abreast of medical and data advances and understanding the customer is very important. This is all supported by groups like ALUCA who help build capabilities and knowledge.

The most valuable skill a claims executive can possess is…

Operating with greater empathy for strong customer outcomes. An equal focus on both EQ and IQ, as well as maintaining their curiosity.

My best advice for young underwriters, claims and rehab managers…

Following the above theme, for those new to career stay curious. Keep developing and working on yourself – both your IQ and EQ – and embrace change and accept that it will be part of your career.

If I were Chair of ALUCA, one thing I would improve is…

A stronger emphasis on thought leadership and the professionalism of claims and underwriting to truly become a career.

If I could travel anywhere in the world where would it be and why..

Iceland and Easter Island. I also have a deep fascination with Africa so I am delighted to be going back to Africa (Kenya) as part of Swiss Re’s leadership program where I, and other Swiss Re leaders, will provide advice and insights to 20 start-up entrepreneurs, half of whom will be women.

A parting word of advice to ALUCA members…..

We all work in a fantastic industry that is a big part of the fabric of society – we all need to make sure we maintain our strong focus on customer outcomes.


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